A founding member of Columbia County Conservatives, Johnny Watts, 48, is running for the Port of Columbia’s District 3 commissioner seat.

He is challenging incumbent Sean Milligan for the six-year term. The primary election is Aug. 3.

Watts is running for public office for the first time after years of community involvement, and he is campaigning for a more conservative government.

“Although I believe government has a role to play in the development, maintenance and protection of the American experience, it has become increasingly tyrannical,” Watts said.

“It is time we hold the line and protect our individual liberties. As a Port commissioner, I intend to enhance public trust and institutional integrity through honest communication, active listening and sustainable, fiscally responsible decisions.”

A Waitsburg High School graduate of the Class of 1992, Watts resides just west of Dayton in Huntsville with his wife, Cara, and four kids.

Watts went straight to work after high school, serving in agriculture, custom woodworking and general construction.

He later transitioned into institutional safety and facility management and is currently in the process of acquiring a bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and health.

Along the way, Watts has been no stranger to community involvement. He has been a volunteer firefighter and captain for Columbia-Walla Walla County Fire Dist. 2 and has also served as an elder for the Presbyterian church.

Watts was also involved in the building of a playground for Dayton Development Task Force, assisted with the Dayton Fall Festival and Christmas Kickoff, and performed at the Liberty Theater.

He is currently a baseball coach for the Dayton-Waitsburg high school cooperative.

“I believe in this community and what we can accomplish when we stand together,” Watts said.

A native of Moscow, Idaho, he has lifelong attachment to Southeast Washington.

“As a child, some of my earliest memories of Columbia County were fishing with my dad at Lyons Ferry, attending rodeos at Starbuck, hanging out at my uncle’s business ventures in Dayton, and running wild and free at the family ranch on the North Fork,” Watts said.

He stated he is running for a position on the Port “to enhance the voice of the people it serves.”

“I am a fiscal conservative that supports balanced budgets and thoughtful spending,” Watts said. “I support law and order and believe in accountability. I believe in personal freedoms and limited government.”

Hector del Castillo can be reached at hectordelcastillo@wwub.com or 509-526-8317.

Hector writes stories about local sports, helps produce the daily section and updates the web site. A lifelong sports nut having grown up in Maryland, he joined the U-B with more than 15 years experience in journalism.

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